Carpool (n.): an arrangement among a group of automobile owners by which each owner in turn drives the others or their children to and from a designated place.
TBARTA, the regional transportation authority for the Tampa Bay Area, operates and provides assistance for those wanting to share trips, a.k.a. carpoolers, as well as those in a van (vanpoolers), on bikes (bike buddies), and parents wanting to share trips to their students’ school (school pool).
Using an online profile, users receive an instant match list of other commuters with similar trips. From that point, they can coordinate their travel. By car, this saves money, removes cars and pollution from the road, and makes commuting more social. By bike, it can also provide better ‘safety in numbers.’
For vanpooling, TBARTA provides the van, matches commuters, and tracks costs with a full-time dedicated employee.
To sweeten the deal, a federal subsidy that pays for gas and other costs associated with driving is also available to anyone sharing the ride to and from work. TBARTA also provides a sort of commuter’s insurance plan: if an unexpected emergency arises, trip sharers can get a free taxi ride home, up to four times a year. On average, ride-sharing can save a commuter $1,500 a year.
For parents and students, TBARTA has a Regional School Commute Program. This arrangement is with specific schools around Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties, where students travel longer distances, like at magnet or fundamental schools. Parents follow the same process as other commuters, with an online profile and match list of other parents at their school.
All information collected by TBARTA is confidential and securely stored.
To learn more about TBARTA’s Commuter Services, visit www.tampabayrideshare.org. There you can get started, and check to see if your student’s school is already participating in the School Program. If it isn’t, talk to your school’s principal about joining!